WASHINGTON -- Americans born in 1984 had an average life expectancy at birth of 74.7 years, a gain of nearly three years in a decade, and women were expected to live seven years longer than men, the government reported Monday.
The outlook was best for white females and worst for black males.
People who were 65 in 1984 had an additional life expectancy of 16.8 years on the average, an improvement of more than a year over the previous 10 years, according to an annual report on the nation's health statistics.
Health and Human Services Secretary Otis Bowen partially attributed the improved outlook to an almost 30 percent reduction in heart disease deaths between 1970 and 1984 and a 50 percent drop in stroke mortality.
'Remarkable progress is being made against these leading causes of death, and much of the credit belongs to individual Americans as they take steps toward preventing disease and prolonging healthy, active lives,' Bowen said.
But the report also highlighted some problem areas. Lung cancer deaths, for example, increased almost 20 percent among white women and 10 percent among black women from 1980 to 1984. The lung cancer death rate was stable for white men and increased 5 percent in black men.
Infant mortality rates remain almost twice as high for blacks as for whites, although steady improvement has occurred for both groups.
The final health statistics for 1984 showed that although the average life expectancy at birth was 74.7 years for men and women of all races, it was 71.2 years for men and 78.2 years for women. For those born in 1974, the average for both sexes was 72 years -- 68.2 years for men and 75.9 years for women.
The outlook in 1984 was better for whites than blacks. A white male born in 1984 had a life expectancy of 71.8 years and a black male was expected to live 65.6 years. For females, the statistics were 78.7 for whites and 73.7 for blacks.
In 1900, a white male at birth had a life expectancy of 46.6 years and those of other races were expected to live only 32.5 years. For females, it was 48.7 years for whites and 33.5 years for those of other races.
For men of all races who were 65 in 1984, the statistics showed they had 14.6 years of life left on the average compared to women who are expected to live 18.6 additional years. Whites had an advantage over blacks of a year for men and 1 years for women.